Judges on col­li­sion course with Chuck

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Bar­bara Gayle Jus­tice Co­or­di­na­tor bar­bara.gayle@glean­erjm.com

QUIET FOR months as Del­roy Chuck in­ten­si­fied his pres­sure for more qual­ity work, judges in Ja­maica’s high courts will hold talks to­day in a spe­cial meet­ing called over the lat­est chas­tise­ment from the jus­tice min­is­ter.

Last week, Chuck re­it­er­ated that judges, es­pe­cially at the Supreme Court level, are tak­ing too long to hand down judg­ments and pointed to cases in other coun­tries where such a sit­u­a­tion could re­sult in mem­bers of the bench be­ing cited for mis­con­duct.

Chuck has sug­gested that judg­ments should be handed down within six months.

The Gleaner un­der­stands that Supreme Court judges are not happy with his com­ments and are meet­ing to­day to de­ter­mine the nec­es­sary ac­tion, es­pe­cially in light of prob­lems they claim they are fac­ing in do­ing their jobs

But not only the judges are fac­ing prob­lems. The court re­porters who pro­duce the of­fi­cial records in cases have been com­plain­ing bit­terly that they do not have the nec­es­sary tools to do the job.

One of the com­plaints made by judges over the years is that there are not enough judges to han­dle the large num­ber of crim­i­nal and civil cases.

Judges are ap­pointed to re­place those who have re­tired or are on va­ca­tion leave, but no ad­di­tional judges have been ap­pointed to in­crease the com­ple­ment.

“There is much talk about what judges should do to clear the back­log, but noth­ing is be­ing said about pro­vid­ing ways and means to im­prove the jus­tice sys­tem,” one judge said.

The judges can­not ac­cess law re­ports on­line to as­sist them with prece­dents in writ­ing their judg­ments as it is re­ported

that the au­thor­i­ties have stopped pay­ing for In­ter­net ac­cess.

The judges also say they need more ju­di­cial clerks to as­sist them with their re­search.

They have also been com­plain­ing that be­cause they have to be in court every day, they have very lit­tle time to write judg­ments and have to do so at home.

They feel that an in­crease in the num­ber of judges would give them more time to write judg­ments.

In­crease in salary is one of the is­sues likely to be dis­cussed at the meet­ing.

The judges have been wait­ing since early last year for the in­crease but can get no favourable re­port about it.

Some judges say they were just be­ing given ex­cuses about the salary in­crease, and with the new tax­a­tion pack­age, they are now earn­ing less.

Mean­while, some of the air­con­di­tion­ing units at the court­house have not been func­tion­ing for months. The el­e­va­tor in the new court­house is also out of ser­vice, while the build­ing is with­out wa­ter al­most on a weekly ba­sis.

Court staff have also pointed to “in­suf­fi­cient com­put­ers and lack of the proper soft­ware and com­puter desks and chairs”.

The court re­porters say their com­plaints over the years have gone un­heeded and they are call­ing for the jus­tice min­is­ter to meet with them to hear their grouses and pro­vide so­lu­tions.

RU­DOLPH BROWN/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Chief Jus­tice Zaila McCalla (cen­tre), Jus­tice Min­is­ter Del­roy Chuck (sec­ond right), and Cus­tos of Kingston Stead­man Fuller (right) par­tic­i­pate in the an­nual As­size church ser­vice to mark the open­ing ses­sion of the Michael­mas term of the Home Cir­cuit Court, un­der the theme ‘Jus­tice Mat­ters’, at the East Queen Street Bap­tist Church in Kingston yes­ter­day.

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